Massachusetts lawmakers to debate cell phone/driving ban today

Much like the fate befallen smokers in public places, the days of driving while under the influence of a cell phone are numbered.

Today the Massachusetts House of Representatives will take up a bill approved yesterday by a legislative committee that would bring the Bay State in line with five others and the District of Columbia that have already banned the practice.

From the Boston Globe:

The bill would fine drivers who use the devices $100 for the first offense, $250 for the second, and $500 for subsequent offenses. Drivers under 18 also could face license suspension.

The legislation would also ban drivers from using pagers, PDAs, and laptops. Hands-free technology would still be allowed, so drivers could talk on cell phones if they used earpieces.

It's almost amusing that laptops have to be included, but such is the madness on our roads.

One of the most interesting aspects of this debate has been the overwhelming public support for such bans. One poll conducted last year found that nearly nine out of 10 drivers want to see the practice prohibited. Getting that many people to agree on the day of the week is more difficult.

However, proponents of such legislation should presume nothing in terms of ultimate victory. Those will a financial interest in anything-goes yapping while driving are certain to mount furious behind-the-scenes opposition to any bill seen as threatening to their bottom lines.

And then there will be the usual libertarian cries about the nanny state.

Sorry, not this time. Drivers who divide their attention between the road and their phone are a menace to everyone.

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